Guy's Tower regains title as world's tallest hospital building

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Exterior of Guy's Tower

Guy’s Tower next to London Bridge station has been an unmistakeable landmark on the London skyline since it first opened to patients 40 years ago.

Now standing in the shadow of The Shard, it was officially the world’s tallest hospital building from its opening in 1974 until 1990 when the O’Quinn Medical Tower in Houston took the title – both were then topped by the Hong Kong Sanitorium and Hospital (or Li Shu Piu Building) in 2008.

Guy’s Tower has regained its title as the world’s tallest hospital building after a £40 million programme of repairs and environmental improvements and the addition of a light sculpture – the Tower is now 148.65 metres high including the artwork.

The light sculpture – Carsten Nicolai aeolux by the German sound and visual artist Carsten Nicolai – has been funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and will become an iconic part of the London skyline when it is switched on for the first time tonight (Wednesday 28 May).

Made of lightweight steel illuminated by LED spotlights, this unique artwork gives the revamped Guy’s Tower an instantly recognisable new profile.

Guy’s Tower is home to the largest dental hospital in Europe and King’s College London Dental Institute, one of the foremost dental schools in the world, as well as a wide range of other clinical services run by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and teaching and research facilities operated by King’s.

It needed a complete overhaul after a feasibility study revealed severe deterioration of the Tower’s concrete façade, failing windows and inefficient environmental performance.

The solution included replacing the windows and cladding the façade in energy efficient aluminium that will potentially save 18% of the Tower’s energy consumption.

The challenge was to carry out this work with minimal disruption while the Tower continued to function as part of a busy city hospital.

The Guy’s Tower project was managed by Essentia - Guy’s and St Thomas’ in-house infrastructure provider - and delivered by a professional team of Ove Arup & Partners providing project management, cost management, engineering and façade design, architects Penoyre & Prasad and international infrastructure group Balfour Beatty who were the construction and management contractors.

Steve McGuire, Director of Essentia at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “The rationale for the Guy’s Tower project was simple – the building was starting to deteriorate and a complete overhaul was needed. The concrete was in a sorry state of repair and the windows were at the end of their life, which had a negative impact on the building’s energy efficiency.

“To safeguard our services to patients and the groundbreaking research based in the building, something had to be done. We set out a plan to repair the Tower and make it fit for decades to come.

“It was completed on time and to budget without us having to cancel one patient appointment. We have secured the future of the Tower for patients, staff and London for the next generation.”

John McCallion, Balfour Beatty Project Manager, adds: “Repairing concrete and installing new cladding systems directly to the Tower without affecting staff, patients or the general public was always going to be a challenge. The successful completion of the project is testament to the hard work and dedication of all involved.”

Mike Joshua, Ove Arup & Partners Project Director, comments: “We have had the privilege of supporting the Trust to deliver this complex project from its inception in 2008 through to completion of the construction works.

“Through working in partnership with its supply chain, the Trust has not only delivered an exemplar major refurbishment of an occupied building but also maintained its impressive record of reducing energy consumption.”

Sir William Wells, Chairman of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity which has funded the light sculpture on the roof of the Tower, says: “The Charity has a long history of investing in the arts. We know that art contributes to better health in many ways, for example by creating an inspiring environment for patients and visitors and by increasing the wellbeing and motivation of staff.

“The Tower is an iconic building and Carsten Nicolai aeolux will be a powerful addition, a public symbol that reaffirms the central role Guy’s Hospital plays in the life of the communities who live, work and are treated in this part of South London.”

Last updated: March 2022

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